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What Are You Talking About? Understanding Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Terms

Understanding Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Terms

We know how annoying it can be when talking with someone about their job, and they use acronyms and terms you’ve never heard before. It makes it hard to follow the conversation, right? Well, we don’t want to be like that. At the Brighton Center, we want families to be active participants in all our conversations. We asked our Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) team to explain some of the words and terms they use when working with families. You can find a PDF of other Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) terms here.

Common Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Terms and Phrases

Assessment: This is an initial and ongoing observation used to identify a child’s needs and strengths, the family’s concerns, priorities, and resources, and the type and range of services needed.

Consent: Parental approval, generally in writing. Consent is always voluntary, and a parent may revoke it at any time.

Eligibility: Requirements a child must meet to receive ECI services.

Evaluation: The process to determine a child’s eligibility by gathering information about how the child performs certain tasks.

Family Cost Share: The maximum amount of money a family will pay monthly for early childhood intervention services based on a sliding scale.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): This is a written plan for the child’s and family’s services.

IFSP Team: Includes at least two professionals from different areas of expertise that work with the family to plan services for the child and family. The team includes the family, the child’s service coordinator, and advocates.

Intake: When an ECI professional meets with the family and their child to discuss what needs the child and family might need.

Milestone: An action or event marking a significant change or stage in a child’s development.

Outcomes: The results the family desires for their child and family. The IFSP team identifies and lists these outcomes on the Individualized Family Service Plan.

Referral: When a person (such as a pediatrician or parent) contacts ECI because a child may need ECI services because of a suspected developmental delay or disability.

Screening: A process conducted by an ECI professional to determine the child’s developmental status by assessing whether he/she is learning important skills and developing similarly to their peers.

Service Coordination: When an ECI professional helps a child/family access services, provides information about ECI services, and finds other community resources for the family.

Specialized Skills Training (SST): Rehabilitative services to promote age-appropriate development and skill training to correct deficiencies.

Transition: This process begins when a child is around 28 months old in preparation for moving services from ECI to another program, such as the local school district, Head Start, or other community services. All children graduate from Early Childhood Intervention at 36 months.

Now that we’ve shared some of the common Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) terms and phrases associated with our work, let’s explain when you might hear them when working with Brighton’s ECI staff.

Brighton’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Therapy Service Cycle

Brighton’s ECI team follows a therapy service cycle that starts with a referral. We contact a family within 48 hours of being referred to our program and explain our process and what to expect. Then, we schedule an evaluation. This no-cost evaluation is done at a location familiar to the child (like home or daycare). It involves ECI professionals observing the child, testing the child on age-specific developmental areas, and asking questions.

The information gathered during the evaluation is used in the planning stage of the cycle. We will create an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) based on the child’s needs identified during the discussions and observations at the evaluation. Furthermore, as mentioned in the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) terms above, the IFSP will include goals and activities for the entire family and the child. It identifies the services the child needs and how often Brighton will provide the services.

Brighton will then begin providing the services agreed upon in the IFSP. The Brighton therapy team consists of licensed pediatric therapists and early intervention specialists. These talented specialists work together to deliver identified services to children and their families. Our team includes pediatric speech/language, physical, and occupational therapists to provide intervention practices, address atypical development needs, and recommend medically necessary services. They sometimes work with Early Intervention Specialists (EIS) skilled in infant and toddler development and understand how this age group is motivated and learns. The EIS team provides children with specialized skills training (SST) and coaches their parents on how to help the child with the new skills.

Transition is the last stage in the therapy cycle. Since ECI services end at a child’s 3rd birthday, Brighton’s ECI team helps families develop goals for their child to ensure they continue receiving the necessary therapy or services after ECI. Several options will be discussed, including Brighton’s pediatric therapy clinic, Brighton’s preschool, local Head Start classes, or early childhood education services at the local school district.

ECI Program Overview

How to Engage Brighton to Get ECI Services for Your Child

We hope you found this explanation of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) terms helpful. Do you have questions about Brighton’s therapy services? Has your medical provider recommended that your child receive speech or occupational therapy to help improve a developmental delay? Brighton’s ECI evaluation and assessment are provided at no cost to you. Our team can help identify your child’s strengths and needs and help you locate resources to meet those needs. Click here to ask a question about our ECI services.


Brighton ECI Services Logo Brighton Center provides speech and language therapy for young children. Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) help children develop language–the ability to give and to get information AND speech–the ability to verbally express language. SLPs evaluate and provide therapy for receptive and expressive language, sound development and clarity of speech as well as oral-motor abilities that contribute to effective sound production and swallowing. Schedule your child’s evaluation today!

Brighton Center Child and Parent Smiling

“Brighton offers families hope, caring, understanding, education and every bit of it is 100% from their hearts. Our daughter has benefited from ALL of the services that Brighton has to offer. They have become like another family to us and they will always be a part of our lives.“

MARY RUDY, Lulu's Mom